Wayne Rooney injury will help England, says Stuart Pearce
By Jefferson Lake
Last Updated: 18/02/16 4:09pm
Stuart Pearce feels Wayne Rooney's injury-enforced absence will benefit England, because it will allow younger players to get some valuable pre-Euro 2016 experience.
Rooney did not travel with the Manchester United squad for their Europa League tie against Danish side FC Midjytlland this week and is likely to miss around six weeks of action with a knee injury.
The problem may also rule Rooney out of England's two warm-up matches for this summer's European Championships, against Germany on March 26 and Holland on March 29.
Pearce feels that may actually benefit Roy Hodgson's preparations, as it will allow less established strikers such as Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane to get some valuable game time.
"I think it's a real bonus, although Wayne won't see it like that," Pearce told Sky Sports News HQ. "It freshens him up for the summer and gives Roy (Hodgson) the chance to look at a few of the other players.
"If Wayne was in the squad I think Roy would have felt obliged to play him in the warm-up games and that blocks a place for one of the younger players to come in and get some experience.
"We know what he can do and I don't think we would have learned anything from playing in the friendlies."
Pearce does feel, however, that Rooney's absence will harm his club side.
"It certainly will affect them because they need forwards," he said. "They needed a forward to supplement Wayne Rooney so without him they're very, very short up front.
"They will miss him quite badly but they're not chasing the title, they're not chasing the Champions League, so the impact will only be seen in the Europa League."
Former Manchester United defender Danny Higginbotham feels the loss of Rooney will completely alter the way the team plays.
If Wayne was in the squad I think Roy would have felt obliged to play him in the warm-up games
"He gives them something different," he said. "He's quite willing to drop deeper and so when you've got pace either side of him, with (Jesse) Lingard and (Anthony) Martial, he provides the space for them to get into.
"Martial in particular likes to get in behind the defence and so what I think teams will do if he's up front is sit deep so there isn't that space to get into.
"So Manchester United will go back to what they used to be, which is a side that plays in front of teams."
Higginbotham also feels Nicky Butt's appointment as head of academy at United is a vital one, as several of the more recent junior graduates have only been given their chance due to injury.
"They have always given young players a chance but, of the recent ones, other than (Jesse) Lingard, they have probably only been given those chances because of injuries," Higginbotham, himself a Manchester United academy graduate, told Sky Sports News HQ. "It's not been because they've been performing unbelievably well in the under-21s.
"As a club, they've always had the mentality that age doesn't matter, you will get that opportunity.
"When you look back at the class of 92, they came through because they were good enough. Now the players are getting the chances because of injuries."